Everything else aside, 2007 was one for the weird weather. The moment that the ball dropped in New York’s Times Square, everything went to hell in a handbasket. Thanks to the Associated Press, let’s take a look at some of the stats and stories that made this year depressingly weird; weather and environment wise.
It was definitely a year for records, and not necessarily the good kind. January was the our warmest ever first month on record, topping in at 1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record keeping began back in 1880 that a months average temperature was so far above the norm.
According to an AP analysis of U.S. weather data, a total of 263 all-time high temperature records were broken or tied in 2007. In August alone, 8,000 new heat records were broken or tied in the US alone. In addition that same month saw more than a hundred all time records broken, regardless of month. Either for the highest temperature or the warmest low temperature by night, it was definitely a weird August for America.
What’s a little more disheartening about that is that only 14 all time low temperature records were set or tied all year along, as of the beginning of December, according to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center.
For an example of what seemed to be an overall trend across the country, on August 10 the town of Portland, Tennessee, reached 102 degrees. This tied the record for the hottest it had ever been for them. However only 6 days later and it hit 103 and a new record was set, only to be broken the next day when the mercury climbed up to 105.
Plentiful triple digit temperatures definitely took their toll, according to public safety director George West, who pointed to the states 15 heat-related deaths in August. But Portland definitely wasn’t alone in their suffering, with weather stations in 35 states setting or tying all time heat records in 2007.
Weird weather was the theme though across the entire planet. A tornado touched down in New York City in August, prompting the banner headline “This ain’t Kansas!” The Middle East copped it too with an unlikely cyclone spinning up in June to hit Oman and Iran. Australia suffered through its worst drought in a hundred years, allowing for environment to become an election issue which seemed to be a major factor in the ousting of now-ex-Prime Minister John Howard.
But water was just as much a problem across the planet in either quantities that were too large or too small.
Atlanta only just missed out on having its driest year on record thanks to a late year rainfall, coupled with its main water source, Lake Lanier, shrinking to an all time low. Lake Okeechobee, crucial to south Florida, dropped to its lowest level in recorded history in May while Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest August and September levels.
But record rains were also a problem in some areas, with Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, suffering from a world record rainfall. In 72 hours, it maxed out with 155 inches of rainfall, breaking the world record for that amount of rainfall in that time period. Other locations, like China, England and Wales, all saw record rainfalls this year as well.
But when you put all of that up on the wall, it still pales into insignificance against what happened in the Arctic this year. I won’t harp on it, because we’ve already covered it, but the simple fact is that we saw for the first time in human history an unfrozen Northwest Passage. The Arctic sea-ice diminished to record levels, and still hasn’t recovered in the current winter.
I’ve been accused of lying by several readers who don’t like what I write here amongst the Green Options network of blogs. The darker shade of marsupial definitely doesn’t like what I have to say, and requires I make amends for everything seen as incorrect. I don’t report anything other than the truth, and always from respected scientists in their respected fields.
So as I finish, let’s turn to Europe’s top climate expert, Phil Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in England. He says that while individual weather extremes can’t be attributed to global warming, “it’s the run of them and the different locations” that have the mark of man-made climate change plastered all over them.
Stats courtesy of AP via MSNBC – 2007 a year of climate surprises